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Hurricane Irma wreaks havoc across Florida

FLORIDA:  Over 1.6 million homes and businesses in south Florida were without power on Sunday as Hurricane Irma has submerged streets and snapped massive construction cranes over Miami’s skyline as the storm continues to move north along Florida’s west coast.

Much of the state has not yet felt the full brunt of the storm as Irma barreled across the Florida Keys on Sunday morning and headed for the state`s southwest coast with maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour, making it a Category 4 storm, the second worst on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Almost 1.8 million FPL homes and businesses had lost power. At 1 pm EDT, nearly 1.6 million were without power while about 200,000 had electricity restored mostly by automated devices, FPL said.

“We will have to rebuild part of our system, particularly in the western part of the state. That restoration process will be measured in weeks, not days,” said FPL spokesman Rob Gould at a news conference.

The storm is moving towards the highly populated Tampa Bay area, where residents are fearing the worst.

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Tampa Bay is particularly vulnerable because the bay acts as a funnel for storm surges, forcing water into narrow channels with nowhere else to go.

All of southern Florida felt the storm’s effects, with at least one man killed, a woman forced to deliver her own baby and trees and apartment towers swaying in high winds.

FPL on Friday said that Irma could affect around 4.1 million customers, but that was before the storm track shifted away from the eastern side of the state. Its customers are concentrated in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Last October, Hurricane Matthew knocked out 1.2 million FPL customers as it skirted Florida`s east coast without making landfall.

–  REUTERS

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